If you are like me and work from home, finding structure in your work-day is not easy! With interruptions from family members and friend who just pop-in because ‘your at home’ to seeing the piles of washing tempting you away from your office chair. There are many distractions right!
If you work from home, whether it is your business, you work remotely, freelance or have flexible office days, you have probably at one point or another struggled with work-life balance.
Maybe your morning routine involves checking emails in bed or over coffee at the breakfast bar and then you get caught off-guard following the Facebook, Instagram or Google rabbit hole ‘researching work stuff‘ … and then it’s lunchtime before you even think about getting out of your pyjamas – sound familiar?
Perhaps you lack discipline or procrastinate, easily accept invitations to long lunches or spend late nights cramming to meet a deadline. Often people that work from home use the excuse I work better at night when the family is in bed and it’s quiet. Are you that person? Girl, I’ve been there so I know the truth! The next day your work suffers! No-one can give 100% productivity when they are doing those late nights and need to back up with an early morning.
Whatever the case, work-life can be hard to balance when you’re in charge of setting your own hours. Below are some tips to help you create a successful morning routine and for a highly productive workday and get on top of working from home.
1. Write Your Daily To-Do List The Night Before
This was a game-changer for me. Writing my to-do list the night before. It sounds small, but its had positive results and helped with my productivity. I find being able to kick the day off with a plan already in place before I have my morning coffee has me ticking things off the list quickly and kicking goals. And if I get all my list items done early in the day, then I have free time to play. Having the afternoon off is my new motivator!
I prefer to use the Notes APP or iCal on my iPhone for my to-do list and I will tell you why in point 6 on Systems, but you could use pen and paper to write your to-do list in a notebook or diary, or use a whiteboard.
2. Set Your Alarm Clock For 30 Minutes Earlier Than You Intend To Get Out Of Bed
I love my snooze time before I actually get out of bed. I like that time to get my mind ready for the day ahead. So it’s a win-win – I get up the same time every day to keep my routine, but I also get that snuggle under the covers time before facing the world, every work-day! Sounds simple, and it is. Getting up at the same time each day will automatically put you in the right mindset to be productive. This small change will make a huge difference in your day. Successful people swear by it.
Surprise! I use the clock on my iPhone as my alarm clock. I haven’t worn a wrist watch since I was 16yo. I have my phone charging beside me so its a no brainer. But I also like to keep my electrical equipment in the bedroom to a minimum. I have the bedtime setting activated so it puts my phone to sleep at 10pm but I usually dont go to bed until midnight and I like a good 7-8 hours of sleep so the alarm wakes me up at 7.30am but I dont usually get out of bed until 8am.
3. Surprisingly How Making Your Bed Can Improve Your Day
I’ve always appreciated having a well put together home. Call it OCD if you like, but it never made much sense other than it was just one of my little quirks. I always felt better when my bedroom was styled pretty and I knew I had a freshly made bed to fall into at the end of the day.
I was only this week listening to The Boss Babe Podcast interview with Farah Merhi, the founder of the Inspire Me Home Decor lifestyle brand with over 5 million followers on the brands Instagram page and she spoke about how “routine is what makes you feel good” and she went on to say “I make my bed every morning by the way – I think that’s very essential for a productive day and to end the day on a positive note”.
Read more from Farah Merhi’s interview focused on Finding Purpose And Fulfilment In Work, Home And Self here or listen to the podcast here. And make sure you give Farah Merhi a like on Instagram
4. Create A Morning Routine
Once you get in the practice of rising at the same time each day, ideally a little earlier than you would like, it’s time to set up some morning habits to get you ready for the day ahead. Maybe a walk while listening to a motivational podcast or some feel-good tunes, a healthy breakfast and take a quiet 10-15 minutes to go through the to-do list for the day (the list you created the night before). And of course, make sure you have a good cuppa or energising juice to kick start the workday!
5. Schedule Regular Breaks Throughout The Day
To increase productivity, its better to take scheduled breaks rather than taking a break whenever you feel like it, or not at all. Think of breaks as a treat or reward. Then if you know you have a scheduled break (or treat) coming, you’re more likely to power through as much of your to-do list as you can to get to that break. Avoid watching Netflix on your second monitor as you work – guilty over here! but Im trying real hard not too and replacing it with listening to a podcast or music, something that wont take up too much concentration. Setting a start and finish time for your break is super important. Make sure you step away from your desk or the task at hand. Go sit outside in the sunshine or walk the dog, but try to include some light exercise or stretching (not watching Netflix! .. haha). Make sure you grab a healthy snack and a glass of water to hydrate, especially if you are in an airconditioned or heated environment. I suggest 20 minutes for morning tea and the same for afternoon tea, and an hour for lunch.
6. System System System
Trial different APPs or a pen and paper system, just find one that works for you. I prefer a system that works with my iPhone as my phone doesn’t leave my side and it automatically synchronises across all my devices and computers so my to-do list is easily accessible if Im working from home, in a cafe or on the go. My goto APPs are Notes and iCal because they are already on every Apple device and computer. Im already using iCal for appointments and regular tasks, so I just have my to-do list at the top of that day and anything I don’t get done plus any new items get added and then it just gets moved along to the next day – simple! Evaluate the system based on what gets you motivated and helps you stay on task. Don’t be afraid to try a variety of systems to discover your sweet spot. The simplest system to use is going to be the easiest system to maintain.
7. Separate Your Workspace From Your Living Space
Having your desk or workspace in the same area that you relax isn’t conducive to productivity. It’s hard not to think about your overcrowded inbox while your desk is in full view. Try setting up your workspace in a separate room, and while you’re at it add in a vision board, some plants and anything else that inspires you – personally I love having one of my favourite travel prints hanging above my desk to inspire me to work harder so I can travel more. If you’re short on space, get creative with a room divider. Remember we are looking to achieve a better work life balance and that can only happen if we have separate spaces to help our brain get in the right mindset.
8. Set A Finish Time For Your Workday
While most of us will from time to time have work that requires us to work late to meet a tight deadline, it’s important not to let this become your norm. Set a finish time and stick to it. If needed, turn your phone to silent or do not disturb, and set up an email autoresponder stating your office hours letting customers and clients know your work hours and an expectation of when you will get back to them if they contact you out of hours. Setting expectation from the beginning will ensure you aren’t getting phone calls and messages during personal or family time or at ridiculous hours. Healthy boundaries are your best friend.
Hopefully, you can implement some, if not all, of these tips to help you on your way to creating a successful morning routine to be highly productive when working from home.
Remember, write down that to-do list while you’re relaxing in front of the TV and get a good night sleep! Another reason I like to create my to-do list in either Notes or iCal on my phone is that it feels less like work than if I had a diary or notebook on my lap which screams work to me.
If you have any routines, tools or tips that help you stay productive, let me know in the comments below.